Wisconsin Cuts Education Spending by 10 Percent in a Single Year
Back in September 2011, the Wisconsin Budget Project blog highlighted a report showing that Wisconsin’s cuts to education were among the nation’s largest. At the time, figures were only available for about half the states.
Now, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has updated its report with figures from 46 states, and it turns out that Wisconsin is still among the states with the largest cuts to education. The new report shows that Wisconsin ranked #2 in the number of dollars cut per student in 2012, behind only New Mexico. These cuts mean that Wisconsin schools will receive $635 less per student in state support in 2012 than in 2011.
Measured as a percentage change, Wisconsin’s cuts to education rank 4th among the states, with a 10.0 percent drop in 2012. Wisconsin will spend $776 less (11.9 percent less) per student in 2012 than in 2008, in inflation-adjusted terms.
No matter how you slice it, Wisconsin’s cuts to education are disproportionately large compared to those made by other states. That’s why it seems overly nit-picky of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFact to criticize state Senator Mark Miller for making a similar claim. His statement, made back in September, referenced the more limited report on education funding that was available at the time. PolitiFact apparently felt that Sen. Miller should have added the equivalent of a verbal footnote noting that Wisconsin’s cuts were among the largest of the states for which there were figures. Well, with the updated report, we can now all agree that Wisconsin has the sad distinction of cutting more dollars per student than almost any other state in 2012.
Although economic times are hard, not every state cut support for education. In fact, nine states increased spending on education in 2012, and another ten states cut education spending by less than two percent. Wisconsin, however, chose a different road by massively de-investing in education.
Many districts aren’t able to save enough through the fiscal “tools” granted to them by the budget repair bill to avoid significant cutbacks. The spending cuts that will result will cause job loss in the public and private sectors, threaten Wisconsin’s commitment to high quality education, and jeopardize Wisconsin’s ability to field a well-educated workforce in the future.